This blog would seem to be off-topic. But in the broader sense, I write about people who lack empathy, so this qualifies. This blog is a response to the 6-month sentence recently given to a Stanford athlete who raped a woman who had passed out after drinking too much at a party. The rapist’s father wrote an appalling appeal to the judge before sentencing, in which he complained that his son was being punished too much for “20 minutes of action.”
I am struggling to believe that there is an American father out there who lamented to a judge that his son is so devastated by a rape charge that he has lost interest in ribeye steaks. This predator was caught in the act of raping an unconscious woman, and his father thinks his son’s loss of interest in steak and the forfeiture of his Stanford scholarship are too much punishment for his 20 minutes of violent crime and human exploitation.
Hey, Dad of the Decade. Guess what? The Stanford scholarship should have been reason enough – in case morality, empathy and human decency don’t matter to your son – to check his willingness to commit a soul-crushing attack on an innocent woman. But she was drunk, and he thought he could get away with it, so a life of ribeyes and privileges and staying off sex-offender registries is now gone. Not because of alcohol or over-zealous justice. But because he chose to rape. Not because he drank too much. But because he chose to rape.
I have two sons about the same age as the steak- and privilege-loving Stanford man. I don’t know how parents can live with the horror of a son who feels entitled to rape. Like other parents, I can’t imagine discovering that I am the parent of a rapist. Would I be in denial? Would I make excuses? Did I do enough to raise my sons to understand that you never take advantage of other people – even when it’s easy to do so? Even when your parents can afford great lawyers who can try to make the victim look like she deserved it?
I am trying to empathize with this father. But to do so, I would have to seal off my empathy and compassion for the victim and for all other victims of rape. I do get the desperation of trying to create a narrative that maintains your cherished view of your son as a good person. But good people don’t rape. I know that must feel like the edge of a cliff, and you are desperate to find a way to get back to safe ground.
But here’s the problem: when you are so defensive of someone you know and love that you forget that there is an actual victim, you are once again horribly violating an innocent person. Blaming the victim for drinking is entirely beside the point. Getting drunk and passing out does not mean you deserve to be raped. It just makes it easier for the rapist.
This comment from one of the rapist’s defenders is such an excruciating example of twisted logic that it shouldn’t even need a critique:
“rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists”
So. When is there a rape without a rapist? There isn’t. This apologist, Leslie Rasmussen, also complained that defining this rape as a rape is a mistake of excessive “political correctness.” Calling rape what it is – rape – is not political correctness run amok. It is facing a hard truth. And how about a year’s moratorium on using excessive political correctness as a shield for inexcusable behavior?
One more thing, Stanford dad. The woman your son raped has probably lost her care-free spirit and her interest in a lot of things too. Things even more significant than steak appreciation. Being raped is so many times worse than voluntarily blowing your scholarship that I wonder what is missing in your heart that you can’t see that. Your plan to have your son bare his soul to high school students about drinking and promiscuity is so far off the mark that I have to wonder if you know that neither raping nor being raped is promiscuity. Rape is violence. It is predation. It is a show of remorseless privilege. Your son didn’t rape because of a perfect storm of conditions. He raped because he could.
Copyright 2016 Sarah Meyer Noel. All rights reserved.